US20140352915A1 - Radiant thermal systems and methods for enclosed structures - Google Patents

Radiant thermal systems and methods for enclosed structures Download PDF

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US20140352915A1
US20140352915A1 US14293550 US201414293550A US2014352915A1 US 20140352915 A1 US20140352915 A1 US 20140352915A1 US 14293550 US14293550 US 14293550 US 201414293550 A US201414293550 A US 201414293550A US 2014352915 A1 US2014352915 A1 US 2014352915A1
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adjacent
volume
interior
building
embodiments
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Narayanan Raju
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Narayanan Raju
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    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04DROOF COVERINGS; SKY-LIGHTS; GUTTERS; ROOF-WORKING TOOLS
    • E04D13/00Special arrangements or devices in connection with roof coverings; Protection against birds; Roof drainage; Sky-lights
    • E04D13/17Ventilation of roof coverings not otherwise provided for
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24FAIR-CONDITIONING, AIR-HUMIDIFICATION, VENTILATION, USE OF AIR CURRENTS FOR SCREENING
    • F24F5/00Air-conditioning systems or apparatus not covered by F24F1/00 or F24F3/00, e.g. using solar heat or combined with household units such as an oven or water heater
    • F24F5/0089Systems using radiation from walls or panels
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24FAIR-CONDITIONING, AIR-HUMIDIFICATION, VENTILATION, USE OF AIR CURRENTS FOR SCREENING
    • F24F11/00Control or safety arrangements
    • F24F11/30Control or safety arrangements for purposes related to the operation of the system, e.g. for safety or monitoring
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24FAIR-CONDITIONING, AIR-HUMIDIFICATION, VENTILATION, USE OF AIR CURRENTS FOR SCREENING
    • F24F7/00Ventilation, e.g. by means of wall-ducts or systems using window or roof apertures
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24FAIR-CONDITIONING, AIR-HUMIDIFICATION, VENTILATION, USE OF AIR CURRENTS FOR SCREENING
    • F24F2110/00Control inputs relating to air properties

Abstract

Various embodiments described herein provide systems and methods that utilize radiant energy to adjust an interior occupant space temperature of an interior occupant space in a building structure. In a building structure comprising building components (e.g., wall, ceiling, floor, roof, etc.) that form the interior occupant space, a system may comprise an adjacent volume formed adjacent to an interior occupant space, of the building structure, using at least one of the building components. The adjacent volume may have an adjacent-volume temperature, may be substantially air sealed from the interior occupant space, and may share a boundary with the interior occupant space. The system may further comprise a thermal conditioning module coupled to the adjacent volume, where the thermal conditioning module is capable of adjusting the adjacent-volume temperature within the adjacent volume. In this way, the system may affect the interior occupant space temperature of the interior occupant space

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    The present application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/829,974, filed May 31, 2013 and entitled “JEV-Based Radiant System for HVAC, Thermal Energy Management, Furnace Design and Thermal Distribution for Moving and Stationary Structures,” which is incorporated by reference herein.
  • BACKGROUND
  • [0002]
    1. Technical Field
  • [0003]
    Some embodiments of the present invention(s) relate to thermal systems and methods, and more particularly, to thermal systems and methods that utilize radiant energy.
  • [0004]
    2. Description of Related Art
  • [0005]
    Most buildings traditionally employ either a conventional forced-air heating/cooling (thermal) system or a conventional radiant thermal system. Conventional forced-air heating systems, such as furnace-based heating systems, typically do not distribute heat in such a manner as to produce an even temperature throughout a building. Consequently, conventional forced-air heating systems often fail to adequately heat portions of buildings, particularly in winter months.
  • [0006]
    In contrast, conventional radiant systems do not have some of the drawbacks suffered by conventional forced-air thermal systems. In particular, conventional radiant systems, especially conventional radiant heating systems, have necessary features to provide even temperature distribution within a building. Traditional radiant systems are often installed between the floor and the subfloor of one or more rooms within a building, and traditional radiant systems usually utilize thermal elements, such as heating wire (for electrical radiant systems) and heating pipes (for hydronic radiant systems), to produce the heat. The thermals elements usually cover the entirety of a room floor and are positioned in a linear fashion with several U-turns.
  • [0007]
    Unfortunately, conventional radiant systems are not without their own drawbacks. Conventional electrical radiant systems are generally expensive to operate for an entire building (e.g., home) and many city building codes do not even allow their usage for an entire building. Likewise, conventional hydronic radiant systems are often complicated, expensive to install, expensive to maintain, and are slow to start-up (i.e., have a long start-up).
  • SUMMARY OF EMBODIMENTS
  • [0008]
    Various embodiments described herein provide systems and methods relating to one or more volumes formed adjacent to an interior occupant space within a building structure for the purpose of adjusting the temperature within the interior occupant space. Such volumes (also referred to herein as first adjacent volumes) can adjust the temperature within an interior occupant space by heating or cooling the interior occupant space using radiant energy.
  • [0009]
    According to some embodiments, systems are provided for adjusting an interior occupant space temperature of an interior occupant space in a building structure, where the building structure comprises first building components that form the interior occupant space. The system may comprise a first adjacent volume formed adjacent to an interior occupant space, of the building structure, using at least one of the first building components. Depending on the embodiment, the first adjacent volume may be formed by closing any openings in the boundary between the first adjacent volume and the interior occupant space, or by closing any openings in a second building components of the building structure, such those building components forming the outside of the building structure. The first adjacent volume may have an adjacent-volume temperature, may be substantially air sealed from the interior occupant space, and may share a boundary with the interior occupant space. The system may further comprise a thermal conditioning module coupled to the first adjacent volume, where the thermal conditioning module is capable of adjusting the adjacent-volume temperature within the first adjacent volume. One example of a thermal conditioning module includes an open-loop thermal module or a closed-loop thermal module. In this way, the system may affect the interior occupant space temperature of the interior occupant space.
  • [0010]
    The substantially air-sealed adjacent volume provides many advantages. For instance, the air quality metrics inside this volume is generally not as stringent as the air quality metrics of the interior volume occupied by human beings. The adjacent volume can be designed for huge variations in many parameters like humidity, carbon dioxide concentration and oxygen concentration. The adjacent volumes can further be used to administer chemicals, such as repellents and insecticides, or facilitate oxygen deprivation, thereby preventing or containing growth of organisms that can damage the structure.
  • [0011]
    According to some embodiments, a system may affect the interior occupant space temperature of the interior occupant space using radiant energy. For instance, where the system is attempting to cool the interior occupant space, air within the first adjacent volume can absorb the radiant energy that emanates from the interior occupant space, and removing the heat from the air (e.g., using a thermal conditioning module that replaces the heated air with cooler air). In another example, where the system is attempting to heat the interior occupant space, air within the first adjacent volume can be heated (e.g., using a thermal conditioning module that replaces cooler air with heated air) and the radiant energy emanating from the heated air can be absorb by the interior occupant space.
  • [0012]
    Examples of building components used to form the first adjacent volume include a wall, a floor, a ceiling, a window, a door, a roof, and the like. Depending on the embodiment, the first adjacent volume may be formed inside or adjacent to the at least one of the first building components, which form the interior occupant space. Depending on the embodiment, the first adjacent volume may be formed inside a crawlspace or an attic of the building structure. Additionally, depending on the embodiment, the first adjacent volume may be formed inside a structural cavity formed above a ceiling of the interior occupant space or formed between a floor and a subfloor of the interior occupant space. The structural cavity may be one explicitly formed for the purposes of form the first adjacent volume adjacent to the interior occupant space. Such a structural cavity may be formed in existing building structure or formed during the construction of a new building structure.
  • [0013]
    For some embodiments, the first adjacent volume comprises insulation. The insulation in present inside the first adjacent volume may be applied to any boundary of the first adjacent volume except the boundary shared between the interior occupant space and the first adjacent volume.
  • [0014]
    For some embodiments, the system comprises a closed-loop or open-loop humidity module coupled to the first adjacent volume and configured to adjust humidity within the first adjacent volume. In some embodiments, the system comprises an open-loop air-quality control module or a closed-loop air quality control module coupled to the first adjacent volume and configured to adjust air quality within the first adjacent volume. For various embodiments, the system comprises a thermal distribution module coupled to the first adjacent volume and configured to circulate air within the first adjacent volume. In some embodiments, the thermal distribution module includes exterior ducts or vents, which may facilitate thermal or humidity flux into or out of the first adjacent volume. Additionally, for some embodiments, the system comprises a temperature probe module, a humidity control module, an air quality control probe module, or a thermostat module coupled to the first adjacent volume.
  • [0015]
    In certain embodiments, the system comprises an alarm module coupled to the first adjacent volume and configured to enable an alarm based on a threshold condition. The threshold condition may be associated with a temperature value, humidity value, an air quality control value, a short circuit condition, a gas leak condition, or a flooding condition.
  • [0016]
    According to some embodiments, methods are provided for implementing one or more components of the systems described herein. Depending on the embodiment, the methods for implementing the components may be used to retrofit an existing building structure or user when constructing a new building structure.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0017]
    The drawings are provided for purposes of illustration only and merely depict typical or example embodiments. These drawings are provided to facilitate the reader's understanding and shall not be considered limiting of the breadth, scope, or applicability various embodiments.
  • [0018]
    FIG. 1 is cross-sectional view of an example building structure with which systems and methods of some embodiments can be used.
  • [0019]
    FIG. 2 is cross-sectional view of an example building structure including a system in accordance with some embodiments.
  • [0020]
    FIG. 3 is cross-sectional view of an example building structure including a system in accordance with some embodiments.
  • [0021]
    FIG. 4 is an exterior view of an example building structure having foundation vents with which systems and method of some embodiments can be used.
  • [0022]
    FIG. 5 is cross-sectional view of an example building structure having a crawlspace with which systems and method of some embodiments can be used.
  • [0023]
    FIG. 6 is cross-sectional view of an example building structure having a crawlspace that includes a system in accordance with some embodiments.
  • [0024]
    FIG. 7 is cross-sectional view of an example building structure having a crawlspace that includes a system in accordance with some embodiments
  • [0025]
    FIG. 8 is cross-sectional view of an example building structure including a system in accordance with some embodiments.
  • [0026]
    FIG. 9 is cross-sectional view of an example building structure including a system in accordance with some embodiments.
  • [0027]
    FIGS. 10A-10C depict an example of window in accordance with some embodiments.
  • [0028]
    FIG. 11 is a flowchart illustrating an example method for implementing a system in accordance with some embodiments.
  • [0029]
    The figures are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the embodiments to the precise form disclosed. It should be understood that various embodiments may be practiced with modification and alteration.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF VARIOUS EMBODIMENTS
  • [0030]
    Various embodiments described herein provide systems and methods relating to one or more volumes formed adjacent to an interior occupant space within a building structure for the purpose of adjusting the temperature within the interior occupant space. Such volumes (also referred to herein as adjacent volumes) can adjust the temperature within an interior occupant space by heating or cooling the interior occupant space using radiant energy.
  • [0031]
    Various embodiments provide for forming one or more volumes within a building structure such that the volumes can: facilitate implementation of radiant energy-based thermal system, such as a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning [HVAC] system, in a building structure; facilitate thermal management of a building structure using thermal harvest methodology; facilitate implementation of new types of furnace designs; or facilitate implementation of new thermal distribution systems. According to some embodiments, forming two or more volumes in a building structure, as described herein, can enable implementation of a volume-based continuum radiant thermal system configured to heat or cool interior occupant spaces in the building structure. Depending on the embodiment, systems described herein can be installed in newly constructed building structures, or installed into existing building structures by way of a retrofit process.
  • [0032]
    Various embodiments described herein can provide a radiant thermal system that, in comparison to conventional radiant thermal radiant systems (e.g., conventional electrical or hydronic radiant systems), can be more economical, can have a faster start-up time, can be more convenient to install (e.g., retrofitting an existing building structure), can be less maintenance, and can provide improved structural performance (e.g., based on improved air quality within substructures of a building structure). In comparison to conventional radiant thermal systems, various embodiments described herein can also reduce pest damage (e.g., termites) or insect infestations to a building structure, and can enable heat or cold harvest from environments surrounding a building structure.
  • [0033]
    For some embodiments, formation of one or more adjacent volumes within a buildings structure can ensure that the humidity, temperature, or air quality in or adjacent to building components is sustained at a level suitable for maintaining the structural integrity of building components. To adjust or otherwise maintain the humidity, temperature, or air quality within the adjacent volume, various embodiments can use a humidity module, a thermal conditioning module, or an air quality control module. Such modules may include closed or open-loop systems. For some embodiments, one or more adjacent volumes are utilized to apply pest control products (e.g., insecticide or pesticide typically used in fumigation) to building components that form the adjacent volumes. To apply the pest control products, they may be injected into one or more adjacent volumes. Example pest control products may be effective for treating building components for termites, or other pests that may damage the integrity of the building components.
  • [0034]
    As used herein, a building structure will be understood to include any structure, having one or more interior occupant spaces, which can be occupied by one or more individuals. Examples of building structures can include homes, apartments, townhomes, restaurants, libraries, stores, office buildings, warehouses, and the like. Building structures may be mobile or stationary in nature. Examples of mobile building structures can include recreation vehicles (RVs), recreational trailers, manufactured homes, and the like. The interior occupant spaces for a given building structure may vary based on the building structure's type. For example, where the building structure is a home, interior occupant spaces can include bedrooms, living rooms, bathrooms, kitchens, dining rooms, and the like. In another example, where the building structure is an office building, interior occupant spaces can include a lobby, offices, conference rooms, bathrooms, and the like. As used herein, a building component can include any structural element used to form a portion of a building structure. Examples of building components can include walls, ceilings, floors, crawlspaces, attics, roofs, windows, doors, and the like.
  • [0035]
    As used herein, a thermal source will be understood to include mechanisms that provide heat to a desired volume and include mechanisms that take away heat from a desired volume (thereby cooling the desired volume). Examples of mechanisms that can provide include furnaces, electrical heaters, infrared lamps, and the like. Examples of mechanisms that can take away heat provide include air conditioning units, coolers, and the like. In some embodiments, the thermal source includes a heat or cold source that utilizes continuum, quantum, electromagnetic or plasma mechanics to generate the heat or cold and distribute it. For some embodiments, a thermal source can utilize energy from a building structure's surroundings as thermals sources (e.g., thermal harvesting).
  • [0036]
    As used herein, a thermal distribution system will be understood to include one or more components that distribute thermal energy produce by a thermal source. Ducts, fans, conduits, vents, and pipes are just some examples of components that can be included in a thermal distribution system.
  • [0037]
    As used herein, a module may comprise software, firmware, hardware (electrical, mechanical, thermal, etc.), or circuitry. In one example one or more thermal or mechanical components that may perform or facilitate the performance of one or more of the functions of the modules described herein. Various embodiments may comprise more, less, or functionally equivalent modules and still be within the scope of present embodiments. For instance, the functions of the various modules may be combined or divided differently. Additionally, modules may comprise one or more other systems (e.g., thermal systems).
  • [0038]
    As used herein, an interior volume will be understood to include a three dimensional enclosure, and a building structure will be understood to include at least one interior volume. For example, where a building structure is a home, the home can have one or more levels (e.g., multi-story) and each level has one or more rooms that form the interior volume for that level. An interior volume will be understood to include one or more interior occupant spaces.
  • [0039]
    As used herein, a surface will be understood to include a two dimensional entity that encompasses an area. Additionally, a practical surface will be understood a three dimensional version of a surface having a third dimension (e.g., thickness) that is much smaller than its other two dimensions. As a result, a practical surface will be understood to have two large sides, referred to as the interior and exterior sides, and various smaller sides. The interior side of the practical surface will be understood to face toward an interior volume, while the exterior side of the practical surface will be understood to face away from an interior volume. All other sides of a practical surface will be understood to be much smaller in area than the interior and exterior sides of the practical surface. Examples of a practical surface include floors, ceilings, walls, roofs, and the like.
  • [0040]
    As used herein, a juxtaposed exterior volume (JEV) will be understood to include a volume of space created adjacent to an interior volume for the purpose of heating or cooling the interior volume using radiant energy. As used herein, an adjacent volume will understood to include one or more JEVs. As used herein, an adjunct surface will be understood to include a practical surface that forms a boundary between an interior volume and a JEV. Examples of JEV formed in a building structure can include a wall JEV (a JEV formed using a wall), a ceiling JEV (a JEV formed using a ceiling), a floor JEV (a JEV formed using a floor), a crawlspace JEV (a JEV formed using a crawlspace), an attic JEV (a JEV formed using an attic), a roof JEV (a JEV formed using one or more components of a roof), and the like. Depending on the embodiment, two or more JEVs, which may be of different types (e.g., a wall JEV and a roof JEV), may be combined in many different ways to form a combined JEV.
  • [0041]
    During operation of some embodiments, as a given JEV is heated, an adjunct surface associated with the given JEV becomes radiant and heats up an interior volume adjacent to the given JEV. During operation of some embodiments, as a given JEV is cooled, an adjunct surface associated with the given JEV becomes radiant and cools down an interior volume adjacent to the given JEV. For some embodiments, the efficiency of thermal transport in a JEV can facilitate a start-up time that is faster than conventional radiant systems. Unlike conventional thermal systems, various embodiments enable a desirable air quality metric to be maintained for building components present in a JEV while the air quality maintained in interior volumes for human occupants is different. As described herein, by setting a suitable air quality in the JEV, various embodiments can reduce pest (e.g., termite) damage and increases structural integrity. Additionally, for some embodiments, because JEVs are closed, pest damage to the interior surfaces of JEV is reduced. Some embodiments reduce inconvenience to occupants during the installation phase due to the fact that interior surface is not being worked on.
  • [0042]
    For some embodiments, one or more radiant JEVs may be utilized in conjunction with a forced air system (e.g., a combined radiant-cum-forced air system). During operation of such embodiments, a fast start or continued operation is facilitated by collecting hot-air or cold-air is collected from radiant JEVs and injected directly into an interior volume. This injection of air may be maintained as long as the injected air can be conditioned so that the air quality metrics and humidity metrics of the interior volume can be met either through the air-quality system for the interior volume or by means of additional air-quality controls in the JEVs prior to the injection. For some embodiments, a clean cycle of bringing in fresh-air is performed at times to meet suitable air quality metrics. In the event that a clean cycle alone is not sufficient, additional air-quality controls may be utilized prior to direct injection of air into the interior volume. For some embodiments, the humidity metric for a JEV and an interior volume are different and, as such, a humidity control system of the interior volume may be used prior to injection. The direct injection mode of various embodiments may be open or closed-loop with the addition of one or more intake ports.
  • [0043]
    For some embodiments, walls containing two or more subspaces (e.g., created by wall studs) are converted to wall JEVs by adding paths (e.g., tubing), at the top or bottom of the wall, between the wall subspaces. In some embodiments, adding paths comprises making openings at the top of a wall (e.g., from an attic) or opening at the bottom of the wall (e.g., from a crawlspace) and using tubing to connect the openings.
  • [0044]
    FIG. 1 is cross-sectional view of an example building structure 100 with which systems and methods of some embodiments can be used. In FIG. 1, the building structure 100 comprises structural elements 102, a ceiling 104, a fixture 106 (e.g., light fixture), a first wall 108 a, a second wall 108 b, and a floor 110. As shown, the building structure 100 includes a first interior occupant space 112 and a second interior occupant space 114. In accordance with some embodiments, the interior occupant space temperature of the first interior occupant space 112, the second interior occupant space 114, or both may be adjusted using one or more adjacent volumes formed with respect to one or more of the ceiling 104, the first wall 108 a, the second wall 108 b, and the floor 110. The structural elements 102 may be form part of a truss system that supports a roof of the building structure (not shown) and that rests on the walls 108 a and 108 b. The ceiling 104 may be coupled to the bottom portion of the truss system. For some embodiments, one or more adjacent volumes are implemented in the building structure 100 during its construction, or subsequent to the construction of the building structure 100 (e.g., by way of a retrofit process).
  • [0045]
    FIG. 2 is cross-sectional view of an example building structure 200 including a system in accordance with some embodiments. In particular, the building structure 200 illustrates the implementations of one or more adjacent volumes adjacent to an interior occupant space. In FIG. 2, the building structure 200 comprises an exterior duct 202, structural elements 204, load transmitters 206, an adjacent volume 208 formed above the ceiling 210, a ceiling 210, a fixture 212 (e.g., light fixture), interior vents 214 a and 214 b (which, for example, may couple a JEV on the ceiling of the interior volume 220 with that of the interior volume 222), a first wall 216 a, a second wall 216 b, and a floor 218. As shown, the building structure 200 includes a first interior occupant space 220 and a second interior occupant space 222.
  • [0046]
    For some embodiments, the first wall 216 a is constructed or modified to include an adjacent volume that coupled to the adjacent volume 208 via the interior vent 214 a. Likewise, for some embodiments, the second wall 216 b is constructed or modified to include an adjacent volume that couples to the adjacent volume 208 via the interior vent 214 b. By coupling of the adjacent volume of the second wall 216 b to the adjacent volume 208, a continuum volume may be formed that is configured to adjust the temperature of the first interior occupant space 220 by way of radiant energy. For some embodiments, the exterior duct 202 is coupled to the adjacent volume 208. For some such embodiments, the coupling of the exterior duct 202 to the adjacent volume 208 can facilitate the transfer of humidity flux, thermal flux, or both in and out of the adjacent volume 208 and any other adjacent volume coupled to the adjacent volume 208.
  • [0047]
    According to some embodiments, the building structure 200 is newly constructed to include the load transmitters 206, the adjacent volume 208, the interior vents 214 a and 214 b, and the exterior duct 202. Additionally, in some embodiments, the building structure 100 is retrofitted to become the building structure 200. For example, during a retrofit process, the building structure 100 of FIG. 1 may be modified to include the load transmitters 206 in order to form the adjacent volume 208, as shown in FIG. 2, and may be further modified to include the interior vents 214 a and 214 b, as also shown in FIG. 2. Depending on the embodiment, the ceiling 104 of the building structure 100 may be drawn downward based on design needs or, as shown in FIG. 2, the structural elements 204 (e.g., of the truss system) may be pushed upward and the height of the first interior occupant space 220 and the second interior occupant space 222 are maintained in comparison to the height of the first interior occupant space 112 and the second interior occupant space 114 of the building structure 100. In this way, one or more the adjacent volume can be implemented into the building structure 100 so that there is no need to lose interior volume in the first interior occupant space 112 and the second interior occupant space 114.
  • [0048]
    FIG. 3 is cross-sectional view of an example building structure 300 including a system in accordance with some embodiments. In particular, the building structure 300 illustrates the implementations of one or more adjacent volumes adjacent to an interior occupant space. In FIG. 3, the building structure 300 comprises an exterior duct 302, structural elements 304, a first ceiling 312, a second ceiling 306, load transmitters 308, an adjacent volume 310 formed between the first ceiling 312 and the second ceiling 306, a fixture 314 (e.g., light fixture), an interior vent 316, a first wall 318 a, a second wall 318 b, and a floor 320. As shown, the building structure 300 includes a first interior occupant space 322 and a second interior occupant space 324. In accordance with some embodiments, the building structure 300 is a variation of the building structure 200 that includes the second ceiling 306. For some embodiments, the addition of the second ceiling 306 improves the functionality of the adjacent volume 310.
  • [0049]
    FIG. 4 is an exterior view of an example building structure 400 having foundation vents with which systems and method of some embodiments can be used. In FIG. 4, the building structure 400 includes vents 402, which may be coupled to a crawlspace of the building structure 400. In accordance with some embodiments, one, some, or all of the vents 402 are closed to facilitate the formation of an adjacent volume within a crawlspace of the building structure 400. For some embodiments, one or more of the vents 402 remain open to facilitate the transfer of humidity flux or thermal flux in and out of an adjacent volume formed within a crawlspace of the building structure 400.
  • [0050]
    FIG. 5 is cross-sectional view of an example building structure 500 having a crawlspace 514 with which systems and method of some embodiments can be used. In FIG. 5, the building structure 500 comprises an interior occupant space 502, walls 504, a floor 506, vents 508, a foundation 510, dirt 512, and the crawlspace 514. For some embodiments, one or more adjacent volumes are formed in the crawlspace 514 by closing one or more of the vents 508. By forming an adjacent volume within the crawlspace 514, the adjacent space can affect and adjust the temperature of the interior occupant space 502. For some embodiments, adjacent volumes formed in one or more of the walls 504 are coupled to an adjacent volume formed within the crawlspace 514. In this way, an adjacent volume formed in the crawlspace 514 can be included in a continuum volume formed in accordance with some embodiments. Adjacent volumes formed in one or more of the walls 504 can be coupled to an adjacent volume formed within the crawlspace 514 by forming one or more openings between the adjacent volumes of the walls 504 and the crawlspace 514.
  • [0051]
    FIG. 6 is cross-sectional view of an example building structure 600 having a crawlspace 622 that includes a system in accordance with some embodiments. In particular, the building structure 600 illustrates the implementation of one or more adjacent volumes adjacent to an interior occupant space. In FIG. 6, the building structure 600 comprises an interior occupant space 602, a thermostat module 604, walls 606, a floor 608, a vent covering 610, an exterior duct 612, vents 614 a and 614 b, a probe module 616, a foundation 618, dirt 620, and the crawlspace 622. As shown, the vent 614 a is closed by the vent covering 610, and the exterior duct 612 is coupled to the vent 614 b. In accordance with some embodiments, the exterior duct 612 facilitates transfer of humidity flux or thermal flux in and out of an adjacent volume formed within the crawlspace 622. In some embodiments, one or more of the vents 614 a and 614 b are coupled to a closed or open-loop control system.
  • [0052]
    In some embodiments, the thermostat module 604 may be configured to control one or more modules or systems coupled to the one or more adjacent volumes formed within the building structure 600 including, for example, adjacent volumes formed within the crawlspace 622. In addition, for some embodiments, the probe module 616 is configured measure various aspects of an adjacent volume formed within the crawlspace 622. For instance, the probe module 616 may be configured to measure or otherwise sense humidity, temperature, or air quality of the environment within the crawlspace 622 before or after an adjacent volume has been formed.
  • [0053]
    Where water enters the crawlspace 622, the upper portion of the crawlspace 622 can be utilized as an adjacent volume by adding a ceiling-like structure (not shown) configured to restrict the water flow to the portion below the ceiling-like structure. For some embodiments, the ceiling-like structure is similar to that of the second ceiling 306 added to the building structure 300 in FIG. 3.
  • [0054]
    FIG. 7 is cross-sectional view of an example building structure 700 having a crawlspace 726 that includes a system in accordance with some embodiments. In particular, the building structure 700 illustrates the addition of various components to an adjacent space within a crawlspace. In FIG. 7, the building structure 700 comprises an interior occupant space 702, a thermostat module 704, walls 706, a floor 708, vent coverings 710, vents 712, a probe module 714, a foundation 716, a humidity module 718, a heating module 720, a cooling module 722, dirt 724, and the crawlspace 726. As shown, both vents 712 are closed by the vent coverings 710. In accordance with some embodiments, the humidity module 718, the heating module 720, and the cooling module 722 are coupled to the adjacent volume of the crawlspace 726 by being placed in the adjacent volume. Each of the humidity module 718, the heating module 720, and the cooling module 722 may be open or closed-loop in nature. The humidity module 718 may comprise a humidifier and a furnace connected to the humidity module 718 may be connected to ducts placed on one of the vents 712.
  • [0055]
    FIG. 8 is cross-sectional view of an example building structure 800 including a system in accordance with some embodiments. In particular, the building structure 800 illustrates a method for forming an adjacent volume within a wall. In FIG. 8, the building structure 800 comprises structural elements 802, a ceiling 804, a fixture 808 (e.g., light fixture), a first wall 806 a, a second wall 806 b, load transmitters 810, and a floor 812. As shown, the building structure 800 includes a first interior occupant space 814 and a second interior occupant space 816. In accordance with some embodiments, am adjacent volume is formed in the first wall 806 a by including the load transmitters 810 to draw the first wall 806 a out from its studs.
  • [0056]
    In some embodiments, an adjacent volume is created in either the first wall 806 a or the second wall 806 b by alternating fix points of its studs (e.g., first stud on exterior wall, and second stud on interior wall). When using alternatively fixed studs is used in wall, the wall can be further strengthened using lead transmitters that run from one stud to the other.
  • [0057]
    In some embodiments, an adjacent volume is formed in a wall by using a second wall or membrane that is coupled to the original wall using load transmitters. An adjacent volume can also be formed on the interior wall either by pulling the interior wall inward or by adding a second wall/membrane on the interior side.
  • [0058]
    FIG. 9 is cross-sectional view of an example building structure 900 including a system in accordance with some embodiments. In particular, the building structure 900 illustrates placing tubes adjacent to the exterior side or interior side of an adjunct surface to form an adjacent volume inside a wall. In FIG. 9, the building structure 900 comprises structural elements 902, a ceiling 904, tubes 906, a fixture 908 (e.g., light fixture), a first wall 910 a, a second wall 910 b, and a floor 914. As shown, the building structure 900 includes a first interior occupant space 916 and a second interior occupant space 918. For some embodiments, an adjacent volume is formed in the first wall 910 a by placing the tubes 906 adjacent to the interior side of the adjunct surface between the adjacent volume and the first interior occupant space. According to some embodiments, the tubes 906 create pathways into subspaces between each stud of the first wall 910 a. The tubes may be of a supply rail type or a return rail type.
  • [0059]
    FIGS. 10A-10C depict an example of window 1000 in accordance with some embodiments. FIG. 10A provides a planar view of the window 1000, and FIG. 10B provides a top view of the window 1000. In accordance with some embodiments, an adjacent volume is formed in conjunction with the window 1000. An adjacent volume formed in conjunction with the window 1000 may be combined with or coupled to an adjacent volume formed using other building components, including a wall. The window 1000 may be configured to slide on two or more tracks, and may be single-pane or dual-pane in construction. For some embodiments, to combine a window adjacent volume (an adjacent volume formed using a window) to a wall adjacent volume (an adjacent volume formed using a window), the window 1000 includes a two sets of window elements slide on four tracks 1004, as shown in FIG. 10C. As shown in FIG. 10C, one or more holes 1008 can be made in the wall in between the exterior window and the interior window. When the window is opened a membrane 1006 that embeds into the wall to the left and right of the window, slides over the holes and closes it.
  • [0060]
    FIG. 11 is a flowchart illustrating an example method 1100 for implementing a system in accordance with some embodiments. For some embodiments, the method 1100 may be performed with respect to a building structure similar to the building structure 100 depicted in FIG. 1. As shown in FIG. 11, the method 1100 begins at step 1102, with the formation of one or more adjacent volumes in a building structure such that the adjacent volumes are adjacent to an interior occupant space of the building structure.
  • [0061]
    For some embodiments, the formation of the adjacent volume comprises identifying an interior occupant space, in a building structure, having an interior occupant space temperature that will be ultimately affected by the adjacent volume. The formation of the adjacent volume may further comprise identifying a three-dimensional space, in the building structure, formed by one or more building components of the building structure. The three-dimensional space may share a boundary with the interior occupant space, and the boundary may be formed by at least one of the one or more building components. Eventually, the formation of the adjacent volume may further comprise converting the three-dimensional space to the adjacent volume having an adjacent-volume temperature. Once the adjacent volume is formed, it can serve as a JEV that coexists with building components of the building structure. As described herein, for some embodiments, the adjacent volume is configured such that adjusting the adjacent volume affects (e.g., causes a proportional adjustment to) the interior occupant space temperature.
  • [0062]
    In some embodiments, converting the three-dimensional space to the adjacent volume comprises sealing any leaks or any other openings in an adjunct surface of the one or more building components that form the three-dimensional space adjacent to the interior occupant space. As described herein, an adjunct surface will be understood to include a practical surface (e.g., a wall, a ceiling, or a floor) that forms a boundary between a given interior volume and a given adjacent volume. As also described herein, an interior side of a practical surface will be understood to face toward an interior volume, and an exterior side of a practical surface will be understood to face away from an interior volume.
  • [0063]
    Depending on the embodiment, an adjacent volume may be formed on an interior side or an exterior side of a practical surface (e.g., a ceiling, wall, or floor). For instance, forming an adjacent volume on an exterior side of a practical surface may be suitable when the practical surface is a floor and there is a crawlspace available below the floor. In another instance, forming an adjacent volume on an interior side of a practical surface may be suitable when the practical surface is a floor and there is no crawlspace available below the floor or the floor has low thermal conductivity. In such an instance, the adjacent volume may be formed on the interior side of the floor by creating a structural cavity within the floor (e.g., between the floor and the subfloor).
  • [0064]
    Likewise, in one instance, forming an adjacent volume on an exterior side of a practical surface may be suitable when the practical surface is a ceiling and there is an attic available above the ceiling. In another instance, forming an adjacent volume on an interior side of a practical surface may be suitable when the practical surface is a ceiling and there is no attic available above the ceiling or the ceiling has low thermal conductivity. In such an instance, the adjacent volume may be formed on the interior side of the ceiling by creating a structural cavity above the ceiling and raising the truss system (e.g., using load transmitters) that supports the roof
  • [0065]
    As noted above, more than one adjacent volume may be formed adjacent to an interior occupant space. For some embodiments, the two or more adjacent volumes formed adjacent to an interior occupant space (e.g., as a result of step 1102) may be independent from one another. Accordingly, at step 1104, two or more independent adjacent volumes (e.g., formed by step 1102) may be combined to form a single adjacent volume (hereafter, also referred to as a “combined adjacent volume”). For some embodiment, the two or more independent adjacent volumes step 1104 may be combined by adding a connector volume between the independent adjacent volumes, such as a tube or the like. In some embodiment, the two or more independent adjacent volumes step 1104 may be combined by forming common corners between the two or more independent adjacent volumes. By combining two or more independent adjacent volumes disposed adjacent to an interior occupant space, a single continuum volume can be formed. The resulting single continuum volume may have controllability advantages over two or more separate adjacent volumes.
  • [0066]
    At step 1106, insulation is applied within one or more of the adjacent volumes. In some embodiments, insulation is applied to one or more surfaces exposed to the adjacent volumes. Further, in some embodiments, insulation is applied to all surface exposed to the adjacent volumes but not adjunct surfaces between the adjacent volumes and the interior occupant volume.
  • [0067]
    At step 1108, one or more of the adjacent volumes are coupled to a thermal conditioning module. For some embodiments, the thermal conditioning module is configured to adjust temperature within the adjacent volume. In some embodiments, the thermal conditioning module comprises an air conditioning system. The thermal conditioning module may be closed-loop and may comprise a closed-loop heating source, closed-loop cooling source, or both. Depending on the embodiment, the thermal conditioning module may be coupled to the adjacent volume by placing the thermal conditioning module inside the adjacent volume, or by placing the thermal conditioning module outside the adjacent volume and coupling the adjacent volume to the humidity module.
  • [0068]
    At step 1110, one or more of the adjacent volumes are coupled to a humidity module. For some embodiments, the humidity module is configured to adjust humidity within the adjacent volume (e.g., by adding or removing humidity to the adjacent volume). The humidity module may be open-loop or closed-loop in nature. Depending on the embodiment, the humidity module may be coupled to the adjacent volume by placing the humidity module inside the adjacent volume, or by placing the humidity module outside the adjacent volume and coupling the adjacent volume to the humidity module.
  • [0069]
    At step 1112, one or more of the adjacent volumes are coupled to an air quality control module. For some embodiments, the air quality control module is configured to adjust air quality within the adjacent volume. The air quality control module may be open-loop or closed-loop in nature. Depending on the embodiment, the air quality control module may be coupled to the adjacent volume by placing the air quality control module inside the adjacent volume, or by placing the air quality control module outside the adjacent volume and coupling the adjacent volume to the humidity module.
  • [0070]
    For some embodiments, two or more of the thermal conditioning module, humidity module, and air quality control module are co-located.
  • [0071]
    At step 1114, one or more of the adjacent volumes are coupled to a thermal distribution module. For some embodiments, the thermal distribution module provides thermal transport using three-dimensional space. The thermal distribution module may comprise ducts, fans, heat waveguides, reflectors, and the like. Ducts and fans may be utilized for continuum fluid mechanical systems associated with the adjacent volume. Heat waveguides may be utilized for continuum structural systems associated with the adjacent volume. Reflectors may be utilized for electromagnetic systems associated with the adjacent volume.
  • [0072]
    At step 1116, one or more of the adjacent volumes are coupled to an alarm module. For some embodiments, the alarm module is configured sense one or more conditions within the adjacent volume and issue an alarm or perform an action based on the conditions. Depending on the embodiment, the one or more conditions can include humidity sensed in the adjacent volume, a short circuit sensed with respect to a component or system coupled to the adjacent volume, a gas leakage sensed in the adjacent volume, flood sensed in the adjacent volume, or the like. Examples of an alarm can include visual or audio alarm issued to one or more occupants present in the building structure. For some embodiments, the alarm is issued by way of an electronic message to someone responsible for care of the building structure (e.g., owner, manager, maintenance personal, occupants, tenants, public service personnel, etc.).
  • [0073]
    At step 1118, one or more of the adjacent volumes are coupled to one or more sensor or control modules. The sensor or control modules can be coupled to one or more thermal control systems that control aspects of the adjacent volumes (e.g., humidity, temperature, air quality, circulation within). The sensor or control modules can implement a feedback loop with respect to controlling aspects of the adjacent volumes. Examples of sensor or control modules include temperature probes, humidity probes, air quality probes, thermostats, and the like.
  • [0074]
    Though the steps of the method 1100 may be depicted and described in a certain order, those skilled in the art will appreciate that the order in which the steps are performed may vary between different embodiments.
  • [0075]
    Various embodiments are described herein as examples. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications may be made and other embodiments can be used.

Claims (34)

    We claim:
  1. 1. A method of adjusting an interior occupant space temperature of an interior occupant space in a building structure, the building structure comprising first building components that form the interior occupant space, the method comprising:
    forming a first adjacent volume adjacent to the interior occupant space using at least one of the first building components, the first adjacent volume being substantially air sealed from the interior occupant space, the first adjacent volume sharing a boundary with the interior occupant space, and the first adjacent volume having an adjacent-volume temperature; and
    coupling a thermal conditioning module to the first adjacent volume, the thermal conditioning module capable of adjusting the adjacent-volume temperature within the first adjacent volume, thereby affecting the interior occupant space temperature of the interior occupant space.
  2. 2. The method of claim 1, wherein the first adjacent volume is formed inside or adjacent to the at least one of the first building components.
  3. 3. The method of claim 1, wherein the at least one of the first building components is a wall, a floor, a ceiling, or a roof.
  4. 4. The method of claim 1, further comprising forming a structural cavity above a ceiling of the interior occupant space or forming the structural cavity between a floor and a subfloor of the interior occupant space, wherein the first adjacent volume is formed inside the structural cavity.
  5. 5. The method of claim 1, wherein the first adjacent volume is formed inside a crawlspace or an attic of the building structure.
  6. 6. The method of claim 1, wherein the forming the first adjacent volume comprises closing any openings, in the boundary, between the first adjacent volume and the interior occupant space.
  7. 7. The method of claim 1, wherein the building structure comprises second building components, and the forming the first adjacent volume comprises closing an opening in at least one of the second building components of the building structure.
  8. 8. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
    forming a second adjacent volume adjacent to the interior occupant space and independent from the first adjacent volume; and
    coupling the first adjacent volume to the second adjacent volume to form a combined adjacent volume.
  9. 9. The method of claim 8, wherein the coupling the first adjacent volume to the second adjacent volume comprises adding a connecter volume between the first adjacent volume and the second adjacent volume.
  10. 10. The method of claim 1, further comprising applying insulation within the first adjacent volume.
  11. 11. The method of claim 10, wherein the applying insulation within the first adjacent volume comprises not applying insulation to the boundary shared by the first adjacent volume and the interior occupant space.
  12. 12. The method of claim 1, wherein the thermal conditioning module comprises an open-loop thermal module or a closed-loop thermal module.
  13. 13. The method of claim 1, further comprising coupling the first adjacent volume to closed-loop or open-loop humidity module configured to adjust humidity within the first adjacent volume.
  14. 14. The method of claim 1, further comprising coupling the first adjacent volume to an open-loop air-quality control module or a closed-loop air quality control module, the open-loop air-quality control module or the closed-loop air quality control module being configured to adjust air quality within the first adjacent volume.
  15. 15. The method of claim 1, further comprising coupling the first adjacent volume to thermal distribution module configured to circulate air within the first adjacent volume.
  16. 16. The method of claim 1, further comprising coupling the first adjacent volume to a temperature probe module, a humidity control module, an air quality control probe module, or a thermostat module.
  17. 17. The method of claim 1, further comprising coupling the first adjacent volume to an alarm module configured to enable an alarm based on a threshold condition.
  18. 18. The method of claim 17, wherein the threshold condition is associated with a temperature value, humidity value, an air quality control value, a short circuit condition, a gas leak condition, or a flooding condition.
  19. 19. A system for adjusting an interior occupant space temperature of an interior occupant space in a building structure, the building structure comprising first building components that form the interior occupant space, the system comprising:
    a first adjacent volume formed adjacent to the interior occupant space using at least one of the first building components, the first adjacent volume being substantially air sealed from the interior occupant space, the first adjacent volume sharing a boundary with the interior occupant space, and the first adjacent volume having an adjacent-volume temperature; and
    a thermal conditioning module coupled to the first adjacent volume, the thermal conditioning module capable of adjusting the adjacent-volume temperature within the first adjacent volume, thereby affecting the interior occupant space temperature of the interior occupant space.
  20. 20. The system of claim 19, wherein the first adjacent volume is formed inside or adjacent to the at least one of the first building components.
  21. 21. The system of claim 19, wherein the at least one of the first building components is a wall, a floor, a ceiling, or a roof.
  22. 22. The system of claim 19, wherein the first adjacent volume is formed inside a structural cavity formed above a ceiling of the interior occupant space or formed between a floor and a subfloor of the interior occupant space.
  23. 23. The system of claim 19, the method further comprising:
    forming a second adjacent volume adjacent to the interior occupant space and independent from the first adjacent volume; and
    coupling the first adjacent volume to the second adjacent volume to form a combined adjacent volume.
  24. 24. The system of claim 23, wherein the coupling the first adjacent volume to the second adjacent volume comprises adding a connecter volume between the first adjacent volume and the second adjacent volume.
  25. 25. The system of claim 19, wherein the first adjacent volume is formed inside a crawlspace or an attic of the building structure.
  26. 26. The system of claim 19, wherein the first adjacent volume comprises insulation.
  27. 27. The system of claim 26, wherein the insulation is not applied to the boundary shared by the first adjacent volume and the interior occupant space.
  28. 28. The system of claim 19, wherein the thermal conditioning module comprises an open-loop thermal module or a closed-loop thermal module.
  29. 29. The system of claim 19, further comprising a closed-loop or open-loop humidity module coupled to the first adjacent volume, the closed-loop or open-loop humidity module being configured to adjust humidity within the first adjacent volume.
  30. 30. The system of claim 19, further comprising a closed-loop air quality control module coupled to the first adjacent volume, the closed-loop air quality control module being configured to adjust air quality within the first adjacent volume.
  31. 31. The system of claim 19, further comprising a thermal distribution module coupled to the first adjacent volume, the thermal distribution module being configured to circulate air within the first adjacent volume.
  32. 32. The system of claim 19, further comprising a temperature probe module, a humidity control module, an air quality control probe module, or a thermostat module coupled to the first adjacent volume.
  33. 33. The system of claim 19, further comprising an alarm module coupled to the first adjacent volume, the alarm module being configured to enable an alarm based on a threshold condition.
  34. 34. The system of claim 33, wherein the threshold condition is associated with a temperature value, humidity value, an air quality control value, a short circuit condition, a gas leak condition, or a flooding condition.
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